Very few vinyl albums have more than one groove, but Fallston resident Craig Willig — who owns more than 3,000 records — has obtained at least two “double groove” albums, both of which are framed and are in the brewery Willig and his wife, Donna, own with their friends Lisa and Mark Moody.
The new brewery, located in Forest Hill, is named Double Groove Brewing in honor of those rare records — one is a copy of the British band Marillion’s album “Brave,” released in 1994, and the 1973 comedy album “Matching Tie & Handkerchief,” by the famed British troupe Monty Python.
On an album with two grooves, a listener hears one song when putting the record player needle down one time, and a different song the next time.
“It either follows one path or the other, so it plays a different set of songs,” Craig Willig explained.
The brewery, which has a tap room with 14 taps, opened for public tours Dec. 6. Lisa and Mark Moody — Mark is the head brewer — appeared before the Harford County Liquor Control Board Dec. 4 for a hearing on their liquor license.
The board approved Double Groove’s license and granted the owners’ request to hold two soft opening events in January. Neither is open to the general public, though, according to Scott Baker, general manager of the liquor board.
The event on Jan. 25 will be like a “private party,” with guests such as artists, attorneys, contractors, financiers and others who have supported the project, according to Craig Willig. The party will be a celebration for “all the folks that helped make this happen,” Mark Moody said.
He, Lisa Moody and Craig Willig were at the brewery last Saturday working on the interior of the building, with the five-barrel brewing facility in the rear and tap room in the front. One wall in the tap room is decorated with multiple album covers, and the opposite wall is reserved for a mural by Baltimore-area artist Marshall Adams, who has painted a number of murals around downtown Bel Air.
The mural, designed by Craig, will be a “fusion of music and beer,” Mark said.
“It was his psychedelic dream, and Marshall Adams is going to bring it to life,” Mark added.
The Moodys, of Bel Air, and the Willigs have been longtime friends, and the quartet enjoys visiting craft breweries around the state and nation. Mark has a passion for home brewing, and said he got Craig into it. Both men have been colleagues in the health care field — Mark will operate the brewery full time, and Craig plans to join him after he retires next year.
“I love everything about brewing, particularly the science of it,” Mark said.
Lisa and Donna plan to remain at their full-time jobs; Lisa as the finance director for the Town of Bel Air and Donna with McCormick & Company, the Hunt Valley-based flavor, spice and seasonings corporation.
Tours now, beer later
Double Groove is located at 1659 Robin Circle in Forest Hill, next to the White Tiger Distillery, and it is open to the public Wednesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. People can visit the tap room, tour the brewery and purchase merchandise, but beer is not expected to be available until late January — the tentative date is Jan. 22, according to Mark , although that depends on the brewing process.
“Brewers don’t make beer, yeast makes beer, so we’re at the mercy of the brewing process and schedule,” he said.
Bel Air resident Greg Liebig, who was visiting Double Groove’s neighboring businesses on Robin Circle Saturday afternoon, stopped into the brewery upon seeing the exterior sign.
“I go to all of them,” Liebig said of other craft breweries in Harford County. “It’s good to have a variety.”
He said he’ll “definitely be back” when Double Groove begins beer service, noting that “I do like smaller, cozier places.”
Mark said he and his partners plan to serve a few beers at first, such as an IPA, milk stout, Irish red and American blonde, but it will take time to build up to enough individual beers for 14 taps.
“That’s the benefit of brewing — anything could change at the last moment,” he said.
The Double Groove owners did not locate next to White Tiger Distillery, which opened on Robin Circle in 2018, on purpose but that “definitely enhances the location,” Craig said.
Mark added that being neighbors with the craft distillery “made for an interesting pairing ... we thought it would be a great synergy for the two businesses.”
Mark noted that he and White Tiger founder Itsara Ounnarath are both Masons, and both have worked in the health care field.
Mark expressed thanks for property owner Mike Parker’s support, as well as the many other people who have had a hand in Double Groove coming to fruition, such as Steve Saunders, of Woodberry Fabrication, who has overseen installation of the brewing equipment, and Paul Thompson of ADW: Architectural Design Works, for his design of the brewery space.
“We’re stoked about the location, because it’s cozy and we’ve got great neighbors, and the community has been super positive,” Mark said.
Science of brewing
Mark gave The Aegis a tour of the brewing facility — no beer is being made yet, as electrical and plumbing work must be completed and go through a final inspection.
He explained the many scientific aspects of the brewing process, which starts with milling of grains such as malted barley. The size of the grain particles that come out of the milling machine has a significant impact on the finished beer, according to Mark.
“We have a whole set of physics and chemistry that starts before we even hit the brewing equipment,” he said.
The brewing process starts when the grain and hot water are placed in the mash tun and rest for 45 to 90 minutes.
“There’s a whole world of biochemistry going on in this mash tun,” Mark said.
That mixture then goes to the boil kettle for another 60 to 90 minutes, then to the chiller and on to one of four fermenters.
The brewers “pitch yeast” into the mixture once it reaches the fermenters, where it sits for five to 10 days and ferments into beer. The beer then goes through a “conditioning” and rests for another two to three weeks, according to Mark.
The beer goes from fermenters into the “bright beer tank,” where it is carbonated, then shifted to kegs that will be attached to the taps and ultimately to the beer drinker’s glass, according to Mark.
He noted there is science involved in each step of the brewing process, with different biochemical reactions happening at each spot.
“No one component is less important that the other,” he said. “You have to get them all right.”
The different flavors of beer are affected by multiple factors during brewing, such as temperature, water chemistry and pH, Mark said.
“I truly believe that brewers who love doing this are all kind of beer geeks at heart,” he said.
Mark also advised that “80 percent of brewing is cleaning,” as all the equipment and facilities must be sanitary, so those who want to be brewers should enjoy cleaning.
Mark Moody and Craig Willig collaborated on their first brewing venture when they entered a homebrew contest sponsored by AleCraft Brewery, of Bel Air, this past spring. They earned Best in Class for their West Coast-style beer and Best in Show overall.
AleCraft owners Brad and Eryn Streett invited them back to brew and release a beer through the Streetts’ company in June, which Mark said he thinks “was very successful for everybody involved.”
“A lot of people had a good time doing it and celebrating the beer,” he said, noting the Streetts have provided a lot of support for Double Groove, and Brad Streett has reached out about a collaboration with other Harford craft breweries.
Lisa Moody said she is not a beer drinker, but she enjoys visiting breweries with her husband and friends.
“I’m excited just about the business as a whole,” she said. “It’s exciting to see Mark excited, Craig excited.”
She noted that Double Groove is accessible from multiple locations.
“Were hoping Harford County will grow with breweries, and it will make us a destination,” she said.